Quinoa Kale Salad with Almond Ginger Dressing (Gluten-Free and Vegan!)

Hello everyone!

I’ve been quite mum these last few weeks. No great reason, honestly. I’ve definitely been busy, but I think it was just dedicating the time to sit down and write something out wasn’t something I wanted to bring myself to do. The good news is — I’ve written up some really good recipes, so the next few weeks you are all in for a treat!

Sunday night was a full moon, and yesterday was the close of a very prominent Mars retrograde.  Between June 26th and August 27th of this year, Mars appears to rotate backward when orbiting the sun. While these things are typically just illusions, a lot of impact can be made by this. Had you noticed that people in general were a lot more aggressive this summer? A lot more turmoil or feelings of discomfort in the air? This had been where we needed to reassess where we stood with our projects, and what we needed to move forward. Because of the appearance of a retrograde, any Mars energy, or masculine energy, is aimed inward, rather that outward — internalizing anger, fear, or heightened emotions sounds like a recipe for disaster. For some people, it was.

THE GOOD NEWS! it’s over. New beginnings. Get stuff started. Starting with this delicious salad. it’s the best of both worlds, grains and veggies. and I love it.

Quinoa Kale Salad with Almond Ginger Dressing (Gluten-Free and Vegan!)

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: ~20 min for the quinoa

Ingredients

For  the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 small purple cabbage, sliced very thin
  • 2 large carrots, skinned and thinly sliced (I used vegetable peeler)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized bunch of kale, rinsed, dried and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup almond butter (you can sub another butter if you have allergies!)
  • Juice from one lemon, plus zest (if needed)
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos, or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of water (at a time), to thin the dressing as needed
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. First, rinse your quinoa through a fine strainer (so it doesn’t wash away!). Place in a saucepot with 2 cups of water, chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and turn heat down and simmer until quinoa is cooked with little water left – about 15 minutes. Remove from pot and allow to cool in a bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, as your quinoa is cooking, add your almond butter, aminos/soy sauce, and stir until mixed. Add in the remaining dressing ingredients, and continue to stir. If you find that by adding water, your dressing has less “zest”, feel free to add some more coconut aminos or soy sauce. It should be somewhat thin like pancake batter, so as to coat your kale. Set aside about 3 tbsp of dressing for your quinoa.
  3. Separately, in a large bowl, for your salad, add your kale. Add in the rest of your vegetables and mix.
  4. Once quinoa has cooled, stir your set-aside dressing into your quinoa and mix thoroughly. Add into the kale. Pour your remaining dressing in and use tongs to mix thoroughly.

Chill in the fridge until serving.

Enjoy!

-S

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

We’re having a cold spell recently… and I don’t hate it. There’s something about sweating before you even leave the house that just seems wrong. my dog is happier, I can wear better outfits to work…. it just works out better.

Now that I’m so close to a dog park for the summer, I take Sydney and walk over to the park so she can make friends and  get some exercise. She is so out of shape… that makes two of us (at least cardio). I probably couldn’t run for longer than 5-10 minutes at this point, but it’s probably worth it to start. There was at least two dozen dogs in and out of the dog field, and Sydney made a bunch of new friends.

I am also ready to eat some more garden food!!! All my little herblets are growing so well, I’m so excited. We had an abundance of basil in a giant flowerpot so I wanted to make something fresh like caprese… I just didn’t have mozzarella. Use what you got, yo. I’ll put a jalapeno in anything, it’s just the best. I’m not a big fan of feta cheese, but it definitely has the right briny flavor to make this salad work with the sweet watermelon and spicy jalapeno.

Short and sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of semi-ripe watermelon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 2 small English cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup of feta, small crumbles, plus more if desired
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced, ribs seeds and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently, so as to not bruise or break the watermelon and tomato.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic, adding more if desired. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

Best served right away, or brought to room temperature (to catch all the flavors!)

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Entertaining Ideas, Part II: Bacon-Braided Asparagus (Paleo!)

Spring MAY have finally sprung, this week. We have forecasted temperatures in the 70’s, and it’s not even weird! Hoping that good weather is here to stay for us. I heard birds this morning, our front flowerbeds have blooms, and the horse’s coats are finally growing out to their spring coat. Party time!

I’ve had a few fun purchases come up, all TOTALLY different… but let me give you an idea of what I’ve been doing:

5 spools of cotton cord rope. Bought the whole darned store out. Currently making a plant hanger… will let you all know how it comes out

A 10 inch ring so I can make another dream-catcher… TBD, y’all will love this (when will I have time to do these things??? Literally laughing out loud as I type this)

A saree….! To wear for a wedding I’m going to in two weeks in North Carolina

A shedding blade for my dog because our hardwood looks like carpet at the moment

What’s on my list though in the immediate future is just getting friends together to enjoy the warmer weather, and food. I can’t wait to do some wine-tastings,  some fun outdoor barbequing, making crafts outdoors, and just fun springtime stuff! I shared a delicious cocktail idea with you guys last week, so with your drinks you’ll need some hors d’oeurves to go with it.

I think asparagus gets a really bad rap and I just don’t know why. Aside from stinky-tinkle (sorry), they’re just delicious, not to strong of a flavor, and are just an all-around really good veggie to have on hand. To that, why not just… wrap it in bacon? I steamed a bunch of asparagus, just to the point of being soft but not mushy. Add a little bacon, crisp them up, and you’ve got yourself a delicious treat that’s easy to eat at a party.

Entertaining Ideas, Part II: Bacon-Braided Asparagus (Paleo!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Makes about 16-17 stalks

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches (lbs) of thin asparagus, washed and trimmed, about 32 stalks
  • 1 lb of thick-cut bacon (organic, nitrate-free, if possible!)
  • ¼ cup water

Directions:

  1. Trim your asparagus about 1 ½-2 inches from the bottom, discarding the tough part of the stem.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once brought to temperature, add your asparagus, and your ¼ cup of water. Cover with a lid and let steam for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the top layer of asparagus is moved to directly to the pan. Once soft, remove from heat and set aside on a plate to dry and cool.
  3. In the meantime, take your bacon and cut each piece in half, length-wise. Try to keep in as clean of a cut piece as possible. If finished prior to asparagus, place back in the fridge to keep it cool. (colder bacon is easier to work with, optional!)
  4. Once your bacon is cut and asparagus are cooled, take two stalks of asparagus and one piece of bacon. Starting at the top, weave the bacon under one piece and over the other, alternating sides like a braid. If your bacon is longer than your stalks, make the bacon weave more tightly through the asparagus stalks from the top.
  5. Once finished, heat your large skillet back up over medium heat and saute your stalks, flipping once browned on each side (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, blot any excess drippings with a paper towel and serve!**

**uncooked stalks can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days prior. If serving for a party, these can be cooked and kept warm in an oven on low heat.

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Valentine’s Day Side Dish-Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese and Walnuts! (Keto-friendly)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Quick post that I wanted to share (if you were looking for a tasty side dish for your delicious homemade Valentine’s dinner… quick-roasted broccoli with goat cheese and walnuts! The kicker that makes this more exciting is how you season the broccoli… which is generously. Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

Serves 5-6

  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into 1 inch florets (remove the bulk of the stem to avoid tough pieces)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup of crumbled goat cheese
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your olive oil, salt, pepper, shallot. Whisk to combine, and gently toss your broccoli in the dressing, making sure the florets are completely coated. Spread across a parchment lined (or greased) baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the broccoli for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli starts to brown.
  3. Meanwhile, we prep the toppings. In a small bowl, whisk together your garlic and lemon juice, and set aside.
  4. In a small frying pan, add  the walnuts and  toast over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Do not use any oil – they should remain dry to stay crisp. Once they start to slightly brown, remove from heat and place on a plate to prevent further toasting.
  5. When the broccoli is finished, remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and  goat cheese. Gently  toss with lemon and garlic mixture, and serve.

Enjoy!

-S

Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

I’ve been a bit impulsive lately. Mainly with shopping, chores, and cooking, painting my toenails red – nothing dangerous (but if you knew me, my toes have never been anything other than white or French pink… so this is the real deal).

I bought a mandolin off of Amazon a few months ago. To be completely honest, I forgot I bought it, much like several other kitchen gadgets. I get excited, have an idea, buy a tool I need, get a recipe together, lose track of time, lose said-recipe, and *poof!* Just like that, a thought now gone far, far away.

I have been craving scalloped potatoes. I can remember my mom as a kid, making Betty Crocker boxed potatoes, and I absolutely loved it. I even tried to eat one of those dehydrated potatoes – PSA – they are not like potato chips. But, with the weird powder mix, the milk, the water…. It just didn’t really seem that appealing to me once I learned how to cook. As a potato connoisseur, I’m surprised I haven’t tried to make them sooner. A regular cheese sauce is easy… anyone can do that. But I wanted a challenge. After rummaging through my cabinet and finding a big old fat potahto, it came to me.

Homemade… dairy free.. why stop there!? Vegan scalloped potatoes, it was.

Now, everyone knows the best part of cheese is, well, cheese. It’s melty, delicious, can be put on pretty much anything. I am a cheese lover, and I don’t have a major sensitivity to dairy, but I respect that it should be used in moderation from a health standpoint… and moderation with cheese is just lame.

I ran to the store and grabbed the first dairy-free cheese that looked good – I landed on Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Cheddar Shreds, and hoped for the best. Let me just say…… this was the perfect choice, because the potatoes came out absolutely delicious.

Enough blabbering, you all need to make these ASAP.

 

Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large baking potatoes, peeled
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup of Follow Your Heart’s cheddar shreds
  • ½ cup vegetable broth, plus more if needed
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped – ribs and seeds removed

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a mandolin, slice your potatoes into about 1/4 to 1/8 inch slices. (If you are very skilled with a knife, you can use a knife, but please be careful)
  3. Place the potatoes on a plate or baking sheet and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Add a pinch of salt – not to give a lot of flavor, this is more to help them dry out as you cook your sauce.
  4. In a medium sized saucepan, bring your coconut milk and vegetable broth to a boil. Once bubbling, turn down to medium low heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and jalapeno and continue to stir.
  5. Add your cheese – you may need to turn the heat back up to medium if you don’t see it start to melt. Using a whisk, ensure the mixture stays piping hot but does not burn, so that the vegan cheese can melt. If you find the sauce starts to get too thick, you can add more vegetable broth, a splash at a time. At this point – taste your sauce. It should have a good kick, perhaps more than you’d normally season a sauce – remember, the potato starch will absorb a lot of it, so you want some flavor!
  6. As the sauce simmers, arrange your potatoes into an 8×8 baking dish – no need to grease, the coconut milk prevents the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Arrange the potatoes in several layers so that each slice is mostly flat but stacked on top of each other. If you use a different sized baking pan, this is fine – your potatoes may not stack as deep but that shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. Pour the sauce over your potatoes so that they are almost completely covered. If you feel you need more sauce, you can add a splash of vegetable broth to the top, and poke potatoes around with a fork to gently mix the sauce. The potatoes will absorb a lot, so no need to worry about mixing the sauce uniformly if this is needed.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top starts to get golden brown. Remove from heat and add a dash of salt and pepper to the top (this is added now rather than before, so that the potatoes don’t absorb and diffuse the salt right away upon cooking)
  9. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Paleo)

Everyone has a weakness… my biggest one happens to be food. Carbs, actually. Salty, starchy carbs.

Let’s cut to the chase… it’s potatoes. Potatoes make my world go ‘round.

I love them in literally any form. Chips, friends, mashed, baked, grilled, roasted, sliced, tater tots, latkes, in a soup… everything. I was dared to eat a potato raw, once. While I probably wouldn’t do it again, I definitely remember there being zero hesitation when I tried it the first time.

Over the years, I’ve become what I consider to be a mashed potato connoisseur. I love Thanksgiving and the fact that my family typically supplies ~10 lbs of mashed potatoes each year because they know I just need potatoes in my life. If I get married, I will be having a mashed potato bar. While I’ll never pass up a good heap of potahtoes, some just stand out better than others.

I’ve made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and they ended up fine. But let’s be honest, here… who wants potatoes that are *just* fine? I don’t like shortcuts, and I don’t want potatoes that are just “meh”. I like what I like, and that’s just what I like. I’ll only make mashed potatoes a certain way.

There’s something to be said about staying true to your preferences and quirks. So long as they don’t harm anyone, intentionally hurt anyone or impact your quality of life, let your inner weirdo out. Personally, I’m incredibly particular – I like things in a certain order, I prefer to eat things a certain way, I like to make things a certain way. Is it weird? Well, no, I’m sure there are more eyebrow-raising things out there I could be doing, but it’s definitely a noticeable “ism” that I have. These could be anything; physical, intellectual, spatial… anything that doesn’t sit right with you, on you or for you — it’s important to at least make an effort to understand why you’re wired that way, or why something drives you like it does.

With me — and food being most important — I keep my basics the same and rarely stray. All my best mashed potato recipes are made with red potatoes, skin on. I tell myself it adds some vitamins. For holidays, I do add full dairy to my potatoes, but I try to keep that as a treat. As for any other day, I try to limit that as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to add some herbs and spices to your potatoes! Fortunately, since potatoes are so starchy, they’re forgiving if you’re heavy handed. There’s different schools of thought with whether or not ghee fits into a paleo diet, and honestly, if you’re buying high-quality ghee, all the milk proteins, lactose and casein are removed (which by definition, is paleo)

Try these, and experiment with your flavor combos…. and remember, garlic is never wrong.

 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium sized red potatoes, washed/scrubbed
  • 2 cups unsweetened/unflavored almond milk
  • 1/3 cup high-quality ghee, or non-dairy butter alternative (if dairy-free)
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or very finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in a large stockpot, just covering with water. Bring to a boil and cover. Allow to boil for 20-30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and place back into the stockpot. Add ghee, almond milk, salt, pepper, paprika  and garlic. With a hand-masher or mixer, mash potatoes until no large chunks are left and potatoes start to take a smooth, creamy texture. Add additional almond milk as necessary, if potatoes are too stiff.
  3. Turn stove heat back to low, ensuring potatoes are stirred and don’t burn. Add rosemary and parsley and continue to stir thoroughly. If additional salt is needed, add as well. Serve, and enjoy!

**Pro-Tip!** If making mashed potatoes as part of a larger meal, you can make them first and keep them warm for a long time as you continue to cook. Place a large flat-bottomed steel mixing bowl on the stove, and place your stockpot within the bowl. Fill the bowl with just enough water to cover most of the content within your stockpot. Allow water to warm over medium high heat, which will keep the stockpot hot, then turn to low/simmer. Make sure you’re still checking what’s in the pot occasionally so it doesn’t burn! and a CAUTION: allow water within the bowl to cool prior to removing from stove, as bowl and water will remain hot for a while.

Easy Caprese Salad

This one goes out to all my Italian family and has a special place in my heart. Growing up, almost all of my extended “family” was Italian. I loved this, because we are not one iota of Italian. A little Czech, a little Native American, a smidge of Irish… but we definitely got to enjoy the family/food-centric-lifestyle of a big Italian family. My mom’s parents owned a mushroom farm, and for decades the mushroom industry was (and still is!) sustained by several prominent Italian families, many of which became our own.

I can tell you, this was absolutely more of a blessing than it was a curse. On the upside – everyone was your ‘cousin’! Go to the grocery store? See your cousins! At a party? Call them all your cousins! Half of them aren’t really your cousins, but it’s easier to explain than saying “my mom grew up with their mom Lisa and she dated Lisa’s brother for a year but then he married Patty… so that’s my Aunt Lisa.”

Generations grew up alongside each other, and the grandparents had their kids, who played alongside each other, married into another big local family, had kids and did the same thing all over again. Your network of people who care about you is your entire town. It’s a great thing.

On the downside… your family is your entire town. You’ve got so many “cousins” that you have to do a family tree run-through just to make sure you’re in the clear if you plan on going on any dates. Speaking for a friend.

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While there were plenty of dinners filled lasagnas and raviolis, and Seven Fish feasts to attend at Christmas, nothing is as simple (and equally delicious) as this salad. You don’t need any secret spices or coveted recipes by your Nana (but…. I need to find someone to give me a Gnocchi recipe… i’ll have to do some investigating…), you just need a big platter, the freshest Mozzarella, and some tomatoes and basil from your garden. Throw in some salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic and olive oil, and you have a fancy salad that looks beautiful anywhere.

That was basically a walkthrough of this recipe…. no, really! But i’ll still post how to arrange it. it is literally 2 steps – best simple salad ever.

Caprese Salad

Serves 6-8, small portions

Prep time: 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups small mozzarella balls, in water
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ~ 2 tsp basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of fresh minced garlic (optional – literally just a PINCH – you do not want to overpower the salad)

Directions

  1. Mix mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a bowl, stirring to get some of the tomato juice around.
  2. Add garlic (if using), then balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Stir to coat salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I let mine sit for at least 20 minutes to marinate, but you can serve immediately.

Enjoy!

-S